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John O'Brien

Brooklyn, NY   

John O’Brien began his journey in music after receiving a set of drums as a gift from his grandfather. Since 1998, he has been active as a New York City-based percussionist, composer of small ensemble and concert works, and improviser leading and participating in a multitude of musical projects including the John O’Brien Trio, Cold Reading Trio, ZAHA, The New York Soundpainting Orchestra, Walter Thompson Orchestra, Sine Qua Non, and Parias Ensemble. He holds a BFA  in performance from New School University and a Masters in composition  from CUNY-Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music where he was a student of Jason Eckardt and Douglas Geers.



ZAHA- Ashes, Ashes

This video shows my performance (on drums) in a recent interdisciplinary work by ZAHA, a live-composition ensemble with which I have worked since 2005.

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Sol’s Walls

This track is my composition “Sol’s Walls”, played by the ensemble Urbana with myself on drums, Evan Mazunik on piano, Bryan Pardo on clarinet, Frantz Loriot on viola, and James Ilgenfritz on bass.

Sol’s Walls is inspired by the line drawings of Sol Lewitt and begins with two contrasting notated sections, an improvised middle section based on textual instructions (in the manner of Lewitt’s line drawings). followed by a return of the first theme in a different form.

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Firmament (2010) for two flutes, piano, and percussion

This video features a performance of my 2010 work Firmament, written for the Brooklyn College ensemble conTEMPO!, directed by Ursula Oppens. Ellen O’Meara and Lauren Klasewitz-flutes Masako Yokouchi-piano Cory Bracken and Patrick O’Reilly-percussion Whitney George-conductor. The passage from 4’40” to 7’30” is a climactic moment which builds to a halt and diffuses into a wake of scattered sounds; melodies in glockenspiel and piano, punctuated by loud, staccato attacks in the piano and percussion.

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